NEWSFLASH: Russian Lawmakers Vote 436-0 in Favor of Anti-Gay Bill

kremlinLast weekend marked LGBT Pride around the U.S. With glitz and glam and thousands of colorful spectators at parades, Americans celebrated how far gay rights have come in many parts of this country.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of gay rights in other parts of the world. Yesterday in Russia, the State Duma passed a bill banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” The vote was an overwhelming 436-0, with one abstention.

The Kremlin-backed bill means that those providing information about LGBT communities to minors, holding gay rights rallies and just generally showing support for gay rights will incur heavy fines. These ring to the tune of 5,000 rubles ($155) for an individual and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for a company, including media organizations.

The bill now needs to be passed by the upper house of the Russian Parliament and then signed by President Vladimir Putin, but both are expected to happen quickly and easily. Homosexuality has long been stigmatized in Russia, particularly in politics and religion, but when this bill becomes law it will practically become illegal, with the potential of detention and deportation

Hours before the bill was passed, LGBT activists held a kissing protest outside Parliament. The Associated Press reports that more than two dozen protestors were attacked by Orthodox Christian and pro-Kremlin supporters who threw eggs and shouted homophobic obscenities. Many protestors have now been detained by police. Russian/U.S. journalist and activist lesbian Masha Gessen is among those who have been detained; she is tweeting about her situation.

Amnesty International has condemned the bill as a restriction of freedoms. Pressure must now be put on the Russian government to change its attitude toward the LGBT community.

Photo of the Moscow Kremlin by Flickr user George M. Groutas under license from Creative Commons 2.0


Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.